Common Good is an inclusive community of programs that supports thriving students, strong families, and flourishing neighborhoods. In 2020, we worked together on a new brand identity and voice and later collaborated on a website refresh. Anne Dean recently called up Laura Gallaher, Common Good’s co-founder and executive director, to see what they’ve been up to since.
Anne Dean Dotson (AD): Thanks for taking some time to talk, Laura.
Lara Gallaher (LG): Of course. I always love our conversations.
AD: Me too. We’ve been working together on and off for over a year now. A lot has happened and is still happening. What’s the latest and greatest?
LG: Our community has weathered a lot this past year. We entered 2021 feeling tired but hopeful. We are grateful to have each other and are more aware of the goodness that comes from being together.
AD: Tired but hopeful. We can relate. The pandemic, racial injustice, and what felt like world chaos shook us all. How did you stay busy and carry out your mission amidst the shutdown and chaos?
LG: Our mission is still our mission. We couldn’t take a nap. We are constantly finding new ways to do the work we are called to do. It took tremendous energy, creativity, and resolve, but our staff continued to care for and check in with our students remotely. Since last summer, we’ve been doing a version of our in-person programming (with strict safety measures in place) to make sure our students didn’t fall through the cracks socially, academically, emotionally, and communally. We continually have to convey and show that we’re all in this together.
AD: Absolutely. That connection is so critical to those relationships. What about their families? How did you stay engaged with and supportive of them?
LG: Our families are incredibly important. We helped with relief work — covered bills, delivered food and household goods. This crisis work was outside our realm, but we were determined to figure it out and support our families. We will always prioritize empowering and caring for families no matter what.
AD: You meet people where they are. Your community feels celebrated, loved, and supported. That feels central to Common Good.
LG: I think so too. We realized that nothing is going to get in the way of loving our community.
AD: What is the most fun or rewarding part about working for Common Good?
LG: The longer I do this work, the more rewarding it is. It builds upon itself. I’ve loved it from the beginning. I haven’t found anything personally or professionally that I enjoy as much as this. It’s an honor to be a trusted mentor in these students’ and families’ lives. And it’s fun to be part of a person’s journey as they grow up. Knowing someone when they’re 6, then 12, and 18 — there’s nothing else like it.
AD: That’s so cool. You get to witness someone evolving into the person they become.
LG: Yes, seeing that evolution is incredible. Common Good is all about belonging. A big part of why I do this work is because I found belonging here. It’s not just because I offer support to other people; it’s a mutual exchange. I have grown up here myself.
AD: Wow. I love that—that reciprocal feeling. I think we felt that partnering with Common Good, which leads me to our work together. Let’s talk about that. What were your biggest priorities when reaching out to us?
LG: I think we needed so much help when we came to Bullhorn. I believe in the depth of our work, and I wanted cohesiveness between how we talk about and show what we do. We hadn’t updated our visual identity in a long time. Let’s just say that nothing matched.
AD: Having a cohesive brand is essential. I’m glad we could help.
LG: I think it may be the most enjoyable collaboration I’ve had in the ten years doing this work. We felt valued, and that’s a big deal to us. And even though you were doing the work pro bono, you didn’t cut corners. I felt like your team believed in our mission. You listened, and we felt heard.
AD: Wow. What a nice thing to say. I think we all knew Common Good was something special and unique from the moment we stepped into the bunker.
Editor’s note: Kaiser dubbed Common Good’s physical space “the bunker” when we first visited. For reference, it’s in the cozy basement of a church.
LG: Nonprofits have limited resources; we make do with what we have. We don’t always have the privilege to do a project like this really well. But with Bullhorn, we got to do it well.
AD: That’s awesome. And we got to partner with Mediocre on the website.
LG: Yes! That was so cool.
AD: We love a good collaboration. It inspired us to look into other possible partnerships for our Good Works program. I think we can lengthen the relationship or be a bigger help if other partners come on board.
LG: The mutuality of it all was awesome — the way we were all able to participate so fully.
AD: So, here’s a big question. What’s next for Common Good?
LG: Two things are on the horizon for us: the growth of our social enterprise, Matchstick Goods, and our Mission Transition program.
AD: I am drinking from my new Matchstick Goods mug right now (holds it up to the computer screen). I’m pretty obsessed with it.
LG: Aren’t they the best? I’m so glad you got one. We have students reentering as staff for Matchstick Goods in June, and it is exciting to have more people working towards their mission, earning their own money, and learning how to use their creativity and make products.
AD: Providing an opportunity for young people to earn a fair wage and uncover their creativity — that’s powerful.
LG: And we are hiring a full-time staff member to run Mission Transition and are expanding, so we aren’t just supporting high school graduates as they transition to college or a job, but we are helping them throughout those formative years.
AD: That sounds incredible. And I know you received a lot of funding to grow this program.
LG: Yes, it’s been a blessing of a year in terms of fundraising. I’m proud of our community.
AD: I can’t wait to witness all this growth at Common Good.
LG: Me either. Thanks for helping us get here. I will sing Bullhorn’s praises forever.
AD: Aw, shucks.
We work with two Good Works partners each year, but we are always accepting applications. If you are interested in the program, learn more about it and apply here.